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Cercle eliminated in the Croky Cup quarterfinals

In a difficult first half, a heavily rotated Cercle side had a hard time getting a foothold in the game. Nmecha gave the home team the lead early on and while after that, Cercle didn't give much away, they hardly created any danger themselves. Cercle showed a different side to their plau in the second half, but bad luck and some excellent saves by Wellenreuther kept Cercle from getting what would have been a deserved equalizer. This is how Cercle's cup adventure ends -- in the quarterfinals. All of the team's attention can now focus on the five remaining league games.

Anderlecht could boast a strong home reputation at the Lotto Park in advance, where they had only lost once this season. Cercle, on the other hand, could drew confidence from their strong performance against Anderlecht a few weeks ago, in a scoreless draw at the Jan Breydel Stadium. Cercle made a lot of changes in comparison to the eleven who started the win against Waasland-Beveren at the weekend. Only Bates and Marcelin kept their places, and together with Taravel they formed the heart of the defense. “Cup keeper” Bruzzese took his place in goal, just as in the previous rounds of the cup. Corryn and Decostere played on the flanks, and the midfield was composed of Vanhoutte, Van Der Bruggen and Kanouté. After two impressive matches, Denkey was picked to lead the line; he was joined in attack by Musaba.

Because of all the changes, it was clear some time would be needed for Cercle to settle. Diaby found space in the box early in the game, but Bruzzese saw his shot only end up in the side netting. It took almost 10 minutes for Cercle to show something themselves, though. Musaba was able move into the area  after a few good dribbles, but his reward was only a corner kick. A few minutes later, Cercle's hesitant start was punished as Sambi Lokonga was too much time to play in Nmecha, who, after a clever bit of skill, was able to beat Bruzzese.

Cercle had a better period shortly after the goal, and were almost rewarded with a quick equalizer. Kévin Denkey steamed into the box in his now familiar style, but his shot was cleverly tipped away for a corner by Wellenreuther. Things then went downhill for Cercle, who could barely keep the ball. Anderlecht's direct play gave the hosts a few more chances in the area, but with a little luck and thanks to some interventions by the captain Taravel, further damage was limited. Besides a shot from Mukairu, Bruzzese also had little to do in the first half.

Come the start of the second half, Cercle showed a different side to their play, with a shot from Denkey in the opening minutes. Moments later, he was unlucky with a header off the post after an excellent cross from Decostere. Denkey then got into the role of playmaker and played in Musaba in front of goal, but his strike partner's shot was too easy for the goalkeeper. After changes by both teams (two for the home team, three for Cercle), Anderlecht took over control of the game again, but other than a header from Miazga, cleverly tipped over the bar by Bruzzese, they did not yield much.

With Ugbo on for Musaba, Yves Vanderhaeghe threw all his troops into battle in the final quarter of the match. Anderlecht were knocked back but could count on their goalkeeper. Wellenreuther still had something to say on the match's outcome, showing clever reflexes on a header from the substitute Ugbo and a shot from Denkey. Verschaeren also defelceted a free kick from Hotic just wide of his own goal. Cercle continued to fight until the last second, but without reward. The last chance fell to the feet of Hannes Van Der Bruggen, but his shot went a few meters wide. Thus, Cercle were not rewarded for their strong second half and their Croky Cup run ended in the quarterfinals.

Anderlecht: Wellenreuther - Murillo, Miazga, Cobbaut, Mykhailichenko - Sambi Lokonga, Cullen, Mukairu (61' Bruun Larsen), Amuzu - Diaby (61' Dauda), Nmecha (73' Verschaeren)

Cercle Bruges: Bruzzese - Decostere, Marcelin, Bates, Taravel, Corryn (61' Biancone) - Kanouté (61' Hotic), Van Der Bruggen, Vanhoutte (61' Deman) - Denkey, Musaba (77' Ugbo)

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